Most Americans drive a considerable distance to get to work. According to the United States Government, the average American spends 100 hours every year in the car. Gallup says that the average American has a 46 minute commute.
For a Christian, this represents a terrific opportunity to learn and grow. Technology has given us considerable content that can help us stretch and grow our minds and learn more about God. Here are five ways to redeem your ride:
1) Worship. By now everyone and their brother has an iPod. If you don’t, you should. And it requires very little technological prowess to get started. You can get the least expensive, iPod Shuffle for $49 dollars. I prefer at least the Nano, because it gives you a screen to choose your songs. Then you simply download the iTunes software to your computer. This software is very intuitive, user-friendly. You can take your existing music collection or download music from iTunes. To listen to content in the car, you have to figure out a way to get your content from your iPod to your stereo system. Some newer automobile models come equipped with Bluetooth or iPod docks, but most older models don’t. But it’s still fairly simple. If you have a tape deck (like my old-school ’96 Nissan), you can either use a tape to CD converter and plug that into your iPod or you can purchase a FM transmitter. I currently use this Jabra version, which comes not only with an FM transmitter (which tunes to a frequency on your radio), but it also has it’s own speaker. It employs Bluetooth to connect with your iPod. I love this and don’t get in the car without it.
I have found listening to worship music in the car is a great opportunity to worship. Some of my best prayer and devotional times have been spent in the car. And honestly, you don’t need an iPod to do it, but having music helps.
2) Go to Church. I’m not sure if its because I’ve grown up going to church three times a week, but nothing moves my heart quite like the preaching of the Word. As a pastor tasked with delivering the Word, I’m finding I need to be preached to more often now than before. This is where podcasting has revolutionized my ride. Thanks to iTunes, you can subscribe to the sermons of some of the best pastors around the country for free.
It’s pretty simple to set up, really. First, you think of some preachers or radio programs (Family Life Today, etc) whose sermons you’d like to hear on a regular basis (I recommend 4-5), then do a search in iTunes for that pastor or his church. Most every pastor, big or small, is in there. Then you simply choose to “subscribe” to the podcast. What happens now is that initially iTunes will download the content available (and you can adjust the settings on how many podcasts you want to download) and then every time there is new content, iTunes will automatically download it. Then when you sync your iPod to iTunes by plugging it in, iTunes will automatically load it onto your iPod. You will find that you will have more content on your iPod then you can listen to–this is a great problem to have!
Personally this has done more for my spiritual growth than almost anything. There is hardly a car ride where I’m not listening to preaching. And I shake up my list from time time, unsubscribing from some pastors and trying new pastors and new messages. I find that listening to people from differing background and perspectives really stretches my knowledge of God’s Word. It’s a great way to go to church every day while stuck in your car.
Another option to listen to preaching is to download an entire app. Moody Radio Network, Oneplace.com, Family Life Today, and Focus on the Family are among many ministries that offer their content through apps such as this. And even some well-known churches are beginning to develop their own apps. If you have an iPhone or a Droid phone, you might search for these in the app stores.
3) Go to School. I’ve not tried, this but iTunes also has a feature called “iTunes U” where you can download, usually for free, lectures from the world’s leading Universities. Many Christian seminaries, such as Dallas Theological Seminary, offer courses on iTunes U. This is a great way to learn and go to school while on the road.
Another similar option I’ve heard recommended, but not tried, is the Great Courses series of lectures from leading universities which feature talks on a wide variety of subjects.
4) Read. I talk to a ton of people who say they would like to read, but just don’t have time. Or perhaps there are those who find reading difficult. (My wife has these challenges). Audio books are a terrific way to read great books. There are a variety of ways to accomplish this. You can go to your local library and you’ll be surprised at how many of the bestselling books are available either on cassette or CD. Some even offer special audio devices with books already loaded.
Digital options are also out there, including places like Christian Audio, which offers Christian books on a variety of formats. Also, audible.com offers a wide variety of book offerings and the ability to integrate with your iPod and other devices. Also, iTunes has a limited offering of audio books available. I’m told the e-readers like Kindle and Nook have audio capabilities as well.
5) Read the Bible. No, I’m not advocating you actually read the Bible while you are driving. But you can listen to the Bible while you drive. There are a number of terrific audio Bibles available, from the Listener’s Bible with Max McClean to Alexander Scourby’s rendition of the Scriptures to Faith Comes by Hearing, which claims to be the world’s biggest catalog of Audio Bibles. Also, the YouVersion Bible app has audio Bible’s available. I have find this app to be a terrific addition to my iPhone.
You might take a section of Scripture, perhaps a book, and read it through while you’re driving. Or you might alternate between a Psalm and New Testament portion. Or, if you’re doing a read-thru-the-Bible-in-a-year plan you might follow this.
In Conclusion: The bottom line is that your drive to work can either be a drag or an unexpected opportunity for spiritual and intellectual growth.